Hello, my name is Feminism, and I am unloveable.

I am re-posting this entry I had in my other blog, as it fits well with the themes in this blog as well. I am editing a bit from the original, too. — My dad recently shared with me a fear that I know he’s had for quite some time. He told me, “I am worried that because of your choices (to study and speak loudly about feminist issues, to seek a career in sexuality education, among other “choices” he might suspect but doesn’t speak about), you will never get married.” I laughed.

I laughed because what else was I to do, really? I laughed because I knew it, I knew that a lot of his efforts to keep me away from activism, from women’s studies, from gaining weight, from dressing like a tomboy, from being too outspoken, were not exclusively about him not wanting me to be that way, but him thinking no man would ever want me otherwise.I laughed because after years of becoming more confident in my own skin, my own ideas, it sounded like such a laughable thing: “Oh heaven FORBID I never land a husband! What would my life mean then?!” I laughed because I have been loved and will be loved BECAUSE of who I am, not IN SPITE of it. I laughed because I think it’s cute (in a weird, kinda horribe way) that my dad thinks the kind of man that finds me intimidating is the kind of man I would even want. I laughed, too, because he said “man” and “get married” which are two things that are very much optional and avoidable in my life plan.

But really, let’s think about it for a second. I know my dad’s worry all too well, and it terrifies me that most people who were raised as women probably know it too.

It’s the line that isn’t written in every lady magazine article about how to look younger, hotter, thinner. It’s whispered after statements such as “oh I believe in equality, but I am not a feminist or anything radical like that”. It’s what you can hear if you play any good old slutshaming parent’s record backwards.

It’s the worry that if you don’t play by certain rules (shout out to the patriarchy!), you will become “unloveable”.

I know I have feared that too, more than I care to admit. I also know that I laughed at my dad’s “confession” because I can laugh now, now that I love myself enough to know sexist disapproval is just that: sexist. I understand the fear of being unloveable, because we all want to be loved, accepted, appreciated. But the fact that most women are at least somewhat familiar with the “no guy will ever love you” (implicit or explicit) threat makes me really anxious, and angry too.

I want parents worried that theirs sons would stay away from feminist women. What would a decent human be afraid of in a feminist?

I want parents worried that their sons will reject a woman based on what she does or doesn’t do with her body hair, or her weight. I want parents worried that their sons grow up feeling entitled to an opinion when it comes to women’s appearance or bodies in general.

I want parents worried that their daughters will stay silent about things they care about in order to please men. I want parents worried that their daughters think feminism is too radical a thought, that equality is too much to ask.

I want parents worried that sexuality education is a field that gets so much heat, that gets slut-shamed. That slut-shaming is a thing that exists. I want parents worried that slut-shaming & sexism in general would deter people from persuing whatever career they want.

I want parents worried that the media and the patriarchy have led us to believe that a woman’s – and a man’s, to a different degree – only road to happiness (because I do think my dad wants me to land a husband so I can be happy) is heterosexual, monogamous marriage. [Not that it can’t bring people happiness or that it isn’t a valid choice, of course. But there are as many roads to happiness as there are people.]

I want parents worried that their kids are being taught that women’s lives revolve around men. That women’s worth is dependent on men’s approval, or men’s desire, or even men’s love. A person’s worth is dependent on them existing in this world, period.

Honestly, there is so much I would be worried about if I was a parent. However, whether my daughter can find a husband who will take her in all her feminist, sexuality-educator ways would not be one of those things.

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FYI: to my one-day-to-be teenage nephews

Today I read this one article that pretty much forced me to throw away all responsibilities and get to writing on this blog again (which is great!). The first thing I thought was “those poor boys”, quickly followed by “OH MY GOD WHAT IF MY NEPHEWS GOT THESE HORRIBLE IDEAS FROM SOMEONE?”, and, while I would like to think they are being and will continue to be raised better than that, I also wanted to write a letter to their future teenage selves.

Granted, I am not a parent. I may or may not become a parent. But I swear to Jimi, my intentions towards those gorgeous, amazing little boys are parent-like. Plus, anyone with half a sense of what is actually wrong with the world can tell what was wrong with that article, with or without having given birth.

 

Now, for the sake of this letter (and how heteronormative the original one was) I am going to assume my nephews are heterosexual. They are 1 and 3 now, so I have no idea and I don’t really care who or what they do in that respect. I am also being quite sarcastic in how I mimic the original letter’s structure and content. But all in all, it is pretty much what I would say to them.

 

Dear boys,

I have some information that might interest you. I don’t creep on your social media – and really hope your parents don’t either, because that shit’s creepy and wrong and not even beneficial to anyone – but I know we trust each other and so I have seen some of your pictures with your teenage gal friends.

You are teenage boys, and you may or may not have a lot of lady friends – you don’t have to in order to be a man’s man, and there is no “naturally” in how you define your own masculinity and boys will not be “boys” if they don’t want to, I hope you know that. If you do like having a lot of gal friends, though, that is cool too. You own your own body and mind and goddamn Facebook profile.

Anyhoo, back to the pictures. They have cute bedrooms, don’t they? I noticed and you noticed too because I really hope we are past stupid stereotypes of boys have dirty rooms and don’t even see color and “girls have pink everything and basically smell pink” by the time you are in your teens. They are also really clean rooms, like yours. I don’t even need to say this to you, that hygiene is not a girly thing, it is just good sense, and that having somewhat dirty rooms is not a guy thing, it is a teenager thing.

Look at all the interesting books and magazines and fun things they have, though! I know you notice because, contrary to what media often portrays, men are capable of seeing beyond bra-less breasts. Perhaps she could recommend you a book? She seems really smart and wonderful and I know you know this as well.

Now, you may notice other things – I am not assuming that because you are a boy (hell, I notice breasts too from time to time, although I don’t really look at that in teenage girls’ photos), but because you are into girls (not all girls, of course, like all human beings you have preferences and choices) and there are girls in those pictures. Some pictures have girls posing in their pj’s, some pictures have boys and girls hanging out in their swim suits, some pictures have people dancing at a party.

 

Now, you may have heard an unhealthy amount of talk about teenage girls and women and how they should act and dress and talk.

So, here’s the bit that I think is important for you to realize: those pictures are not about you. The poses they make and the clothes they wear are completely independent of you, and me, and everyone other than themselves for that matter. As such, they are not yours to judge or try to dictate over. Women are not yours to judge or dictate over.

What you do own and dictate over is your own behavior towards those pictures and towards those women. It is fairly normal that you notice their lack of bra or their curves or their pretty eyes or their pose. You have eyes – we all do. What is not okay is for you to reduce them to their bodies and their poses and choice of attire, because just like you and your parents and me and everyone else, they are complex and whole people and you should respect them and treat them as such.

Speaking of complex and whole people – you are such complex and whole individuals. You have the ability to see someone dressed one or another way and know that that means nothing about their personality, their intentions, their character, their intellect, their sexuality, etc. You have the ability to be attracted to someone – sexually or not – and act or not act on it depending on how appropriate, consensual, convenient (or whatever) it would be. You – as any other human being – have will, reasoning, and self control. To sum this up, and to clarify – given all the ideas that the media and crazy mothers around the internet will have you think – WHAT YOU SAY OR DO OR THINK IN REGARDS TO A WOMAN AND A WOMAN’S BODY IS ON YOU, NOT ON HER. And before another crazy person on the internet says anything: unless a girl/woman comes up to you and verbally, explicitly asks you “can you please view me sexually?”, nothing else she ever does is asking for you to do so. So, I am sorry to break it to you, buddies, but it is on you.

Please know that I genuinely get what you see in those pictures and all of that. We are sexual beings, and you boys are raised (hopefully not too much) to think that sexualizing and objectifying women is what boys do, and that it is a woman’s fault when you do it. I believe in you, though, because you are insightful, smart, and very, very funny. It is a unique lens you have, that of a teenage boy, because your hormones are all over the place and you think of things you don’t know much about yet. It is okay, it is even fun! But that does not mean that your teenage gal friends are responsible for your erection.

Which is what makes this such an important topic to discuss.

Those messages in the media don’t reflect who you are at all, though! I think you guys are lovely and interesting and usually very smart. I cringe and wonder what the people saying these things are trying to do or who you are trying to reach by blaming women for men’s behavior. What are they trying to say? That you are incapable of discerning between clothing and character? That you lack self-restraint? That you are a primitive monkey who is governed by his boners and who cannot unsee nakedness? I know you would be insulted by this, and I know you are more than that.

And now – big bummer – we have to sit here and talk about crappy messages being said to you. Because, the reason we have these (hopefully not too awkard) family conversations around the table is that we are not sex-negative slut-shaming assholes (assholes are actually very smart organs, but that is another subject for another future time) like so many people all over the world. I would never block any of those messages from you though, because that is a violation of your right to information (as false and ridiculous as it may be) and because I trust you to make your own decisions regarding the messages you get. I can only hope you continue to trust me enough to bring those messages to the table to discuss openly about.

I care about you deeply, just as I know that teenage girls’ families care about them and would like their friends to be decent human beings who take responsibility for their own behaviours.

I know their family would not be thrilled at the thought of you teenage boys making inappropriate jokes or comments about these girls’ bodies. Did you know that once you see a role model slut-shaming or making horrible jokes about women, you start thinking it is okay? And that once you say one such thing and no one calls you on it, they start rolling off your tongue? You don’t want people you care deeply for to see you as an ignorant, sexist, dudebro, do you?

Neither do I. I know you are much more than that.

And so, in this house, in our relationship with each other, there are always second chances, even if you say something you’ve heard somewhere that is kind of sexist or demeaning of other people in any way. But we would talk about it, and talk about it a lot. I know, so lame. But, if you want to be a decent and respectable human being, you will listen and keep an open mind. Or maybe you won’t, but I will say these things anyway, because I care. I also hope you grow up to know your privilege as a guy and know that with great power comes great responsibility – is that still a reference for you? I hope it is – so, yeah.

I know this sounds weird because I might (hopefull not) be the first one to tell you these things, but I am hoping to help you guys be great men with a strong moral compass, and men of integrity don’t linger endlessly over pictures of women, and if they do, they take responsibility for it.

Every day I pray  – nah, I don’t pray, who are we kidding – think about the women or men or whomever (because love is not just romantic love) that you will love and who will love you. I hope you are drawn to people who are beautiful and who know beauty is everywhere, not only on the outside and especially not only in clothing. I hope that you complement each other and make each other the best each of you wants to be. I don’t like the term “worthy” because it assumes some people aren’t , but I hope that you inspire respect because you give it too.

Guys, it is not too late to unlearn shitty messages! If you think you’ve made an online mistake – telling a girl she is a slut or that she looks fat or joking with your friends that her ass looked a certain way and that she is better/worse for that – you don’t have to run and take it down “before I see it”. I am not the CIA, a creepy mother, or the boss of you. Just acknowledge that it was wrong and apologize if necessary, and learn about ways you can become a better man in those respects. You don’t want to make comments or remarks that make it easy for people to assume you are a disrespectful human being, and see you in that dimension alone.

Will you trust me? There are girls out there waiting and hoping for men of character. Plenty of young men and women are fighting the daily uphill battle to keep their minds free of sexist, slut-shaming BS, and their thoughts praiseworthy – just like you.

You are growing into a real beauty, inside and out.

Act like that, speak like that, post like that.

 

Your loving aunt Lui

I show you mine, you show me yours.

I want to share a deep, dark, secret with you guys: I am privileged. Another deep dark secret? You are very likely privileged too.

privilege-and-prejudice

Neverrrrrrrr

I am also oppressed and non-privileged in more than one way, and probably so are you.

I want to address a couple of conversations I have had and comments I have received (thanks you guys! you make me love my blog and feel obligated to write in here even though I have finals coming up, and I like the feeling), most of them relating, directly or indirectly, to privilege. I have mentioned it but, true enough, haven’t really explained it or said too much about it. The point of this blog (or part of it) is making information accessible, and I haven’t been doing that all too well.

So, first of all, what is meant by privilege?

For those not too familiar with social justice or feminist blogs or literature in general, privilege is a set of unearned benefits society bestows you due solely to one fraction of your identity, whether it be race, gender, sex, class, sexual orientation, physical ability, etc. What does this mean, in reality? That there are things that I don’t have to think about, daily nuissances that I will not be target of, worries that I will not have, and disadvantages that I do not need to consider because I am a person with no physical disability or impairment of any kind, for example. Privilege makes our lives easier in ways that we tend to take for granted, and so checking our privilege is, for one, realising how good we have it in many ways. Privilege also makes us think, say and do things that may offend others simply because, in our position of privilege, we do not “have to” think about others, as the default way of thinking in that area in which we are privileged supports our own.

This is too broad and abstract though, I believe. Most talk about privilege is fairly abstract because it intends to apply to as many people as possible. I will talk about it in more concrete terms. Big, huge, monumental disclaimer, though: I am not speaking for anyone other than myself. I do not know or pretend to know everything. That is another thing about privilege: even if you’re oppressed in some other way, no two oppressions are the same, so do not pretend you empathize, because you cannot possibly know what anything other than your own experience is like. That said, here is an attempt to further explain what privilege is.

For example, I am a ciswoman (as in, my gender identity happens to match the sex assigned to me at birth; this, as opposed to transgender, which is when the gender identity you’re comfortable with does not match the sex assigned to you at birth). Based on that one little fraction among all the complexities of human beings, I have certain benefits – ranging from relatively small nuissances that I don’t have to deal with, to relatively big ones like not having to choose between a birth certificate that reflects my identity (and save myself from more nuissances, confusion and harassment) and having children. I am not harassed and stared at and whispered about when I go to public restrooms, I am not constantly asked really invasive and STRAIGHT UP NONE-OF-THEIR-BUSINESS questions like what my genitals look like or how I have sex, my gender identity is plenty represented in mainstream media (without it being only as the punchline of a joke). If I am in need of medical care, my gender identity will not grant me an unnecessary psychological examination; if I am in need of a shelter I do not have to fear for physical abuse in there. People don’t ask what my real sex is, as if I was lying or as if my gender identity was not valid, as if they were entitled to decide who I am for me. [I am taking these examples from this blog post, but the list goes on and on.]

Now, another thing I have heard and have read is pretty common (and fairly understandable) is that whole defensive ‘ttude of “but I am not like that!” or, “what do you mean I am privileged? I have had it bad in life!”

Here’s the thing, when someone (for example me, through this blog) tells you to check your privilege, they (or we) are not blaming you. Privilege is not about individual behavior or douche-baggery. It is not about you.

Privilege is not about blame, but it is about responsibility. Of course I know you cannot help but being white, or male, or cisgender, or able-bodied, or economically well-off, or heterosexual. I know, also, that you are probably a nice, well-intentioned fella. Most people are, I truly believe that. Thing is, we are part of a patriarchal society which values and reinforces and benefits some groups of people while oppressing, discriminating against, dehumanizing and invalidating the experiences and identities of other groups of people. That is a fact [If you are unwilling to accept this fact, I am sorry we’ve wasted each other’s time. Go about your business now].

Furthermore, society is built in such a way that dominant discourse, mainstream media, formal education, law, medical discourse is meant to represent and reinfornce the views and interests and needs of the privileged and ignore or reject or misrepresent those of the non-privileged. For a quick example, see what is meant by “flesh-tone” in most products: whose flesh tone is that? It sure as hell is not mine, it sure as hell is not the majority of my hometown’s flesh tone, it sure as hell is not the majority of most countries’ flesh tone. And YET…

Now, as I was saying, privilege IS about responsibility. Sure, as much as you read a checklist on male privilege and you think to yourself “yes, that’s right, how have I never thought about this”, you’re still a guy. And that is okay. Don’t do like I did the first time I read that I was privileged in so and so ways and be paralized by liberal guilt and by “omg I have been such an asshole!” thoughts. I mean yes, reflect on the fact that you may have been an asshole enough time so that you try not to be an asshole ever again, but accept that you probably will. Move on, though: we all make mistakes and will continue making them, just hopefully not the same ones.

A friend, reasonably, asked me, what the hell do I do with that, though? What do we do with that privilege?

Be extra aware of it. Be aware that you are already over-represented everywhere else, so you should allow non-privileged groups to have the chance and the space and the voice: help them create those spaces, those times.

Be humble. The rest of the world thinks you are more entitled to talk on behalf of others already, so don’t. No matter how much you read about their history, their needs, their interests, their concerns, their oppression (which you should, by all means); no matter how active of an ally you are. You are not them, you cannot explain their suffering for them, you cannot answer for them. So shut up, listen, and learn.

Learn their terms. They should not be the ones teaching you how not to be offensive, you should be able to do that yourself. It is valid to ask questions, of course (RESPECTFUL questions). Just do not feel like you can correct us on how you can refer to us (if I personally find you calling me ‘baby’ offensive, dude, drop it). Short confession: I once thought I was entitled to judge if I were to call a transwoman a woman or a man based on how much she “passed” as a woman. I cannot even begin to say how ashamed I am of that mentality right now, how sorry I am for it. Completely unacceptable.

Learn their history, their oppression, their concerns. We learn the white, heterosexual, able-bodied male history since we are kids, even if it does not represent most of us or OUR history. Now it is time for you to do the same.

Be an active ally. Do not try to lead the way, but try to walk with them, supporting their struggles. Call bullshit on the guys for catcalling, intervene when someone is bullying a person on a wheelchair, correct a person who you know got your friend’s pronoun wrong [See: Trans Etiquette for Non-Trans People | Matt Kailey]. To be an active ally you have to be an active listener, willing to accept your own mistakes, willing to take the heat of being an ally of an oppressed group, willing to shut up when you have to and speak up when you must.

And, honestly, why not? Use your privilege for good. Respectfully, carefully, checking yourself closely.

While cismen speaking up against violence against women might be seen as problematic because it should not take a cisman’s voice for other men to listen to it and pay attention (a woman saying “stop raping us” should be just as effective and respected of a claim as a man saying “let’s stop raping women”), today’s world works in such a way, unfortunately. Cismen speaking up against violence against women or against sexism in general, provide men with a role model they can relate to (on the basis of genitalia similarity, which I find quite odd and arbitrary), and they can listen up. They cannot say the guy is speaking to his own benefit or personal interest, and human brains work in such a way that we think that fact makes their claim more valid – whereas, as Tim Wise speaks about in his ‘Pathology of White Privilege’, who is more of an expert on oppression than the victim of that same oppression?! – and it may be more effective. An ally is an ally. If I am talking to a friend about sex work, about transgender issues, about disability, I will use my privilege in those categories to speak of what I know, with as much care and tact and humility as possible, and I will try to change someone’s prejudices and misunderstandings. I will point out when they say something offensive, even if it is not specifically offensive to me.

Why? Firstly, because I would like a guy to do the same thing about rape culture and about slut shaming and about wage gaps, I in fact love it when I see it happening. It does not make them or me a better person, or more entitled to friendship, a relationship, sex or ANYTHING with the group we are an ally of, needless to say. But I love it. Secondly, because part of knowing you’re privileged in some way is knowing that people are more likely to listen to you (unfortunately, and we must of course fight to change that fact as well: referencing non-privileged authors or sources of knowledge, explicitly noting that your word is not any more valid, etc). People are less likely to dismiss you, or get defensive, or offend you with their denial. It sucks, but it is true, and an ally is an ally (again, a respectful, non-entitled, humble one). I don’t know about you, but I’d take it as it is.

So yeah, that sums it up I think. Checking your privilege is 1) realizing you haven’t got it so bad after all, so stop bitchin’, 2) taking into account that what you say might come from that place of privilege and ignorance and you may need to apologize, correct yourself, do your homework, etc, 3) taking responsibility for your words and actions, and owning that privilege by becoming an active and supportive ally, 4) realizing some spaces are not for you to take over with your privilege-splaining (I think I just made that up, but see mansplaining to check out what I mean) or your over-representativeness: you have the rest of the world to have role models, topics relevant to your needs and interests, categories and terms that are consistent with how you see and like the world, etc., so back off when, for once, it isn’t about you.

That is all, for now. If you have any thoughts or things to add, please tell me. I love knowing more and more and more. And sharing it all 🙂

If you feel like talking about privilege to others and are not sure how to start, or are not all convinced by what I said just now, check out How To Talk To Someone About Privilege Who Doesn’t Know What That Is, and An Anthology of Privilege Checklists.

Words that matter.

I have said before how I love language. I love it because it can empower or disempower, create or destroy. It frames issues, gives them direction. It is part of your identity, of how others see you and how you see yourself.

It can be incredibly intimate – with secret codes and made-up words to have with someone, with words of encouragment every morning in front of the mirror – and it can be incredibly political. It IS always political, in that it includes and excludes, offends or supports, ALWAYS. Even when we are not paying attention, language comes up behind us and stabs us in the back, letting everyone know our true sentiments, our deepest-held prejudices, our privilege, our ignorance. I believe that we ought to pay more attention, as our choice of wordscan make a great deal of difference in which conversations happen, who we include instead of excluding, who we stop hurting.

Language (not just English, although the literature I have encountered has been vast on this particular one) as an inherently racist, inherently sexist, inherently homophobic, inherently classist thing is too broad and too complex and too damn long a topic to speak of right now. For now, I just wanted to share some terms I have been trying to use or stop using and why. I of course, invite you to also check yourself – as a privileged ally, that is the least you can do really – and evaluate your language use and do your homework about it and change some habits too.

Some of the terms, dichotomies, standard-versus-other stuffs that we should all be changing:

– First of all, that whole “my gay friend/cousin/teacher” when sexual orientation is not relevant to the conversation (which if you ask me, is almost all the time). It makes me and others think 1) the gold standard is being heterosexual and that one person is the weird one in your world, 2) our (and your) judgment of the rest of what you’ll say should take the ‘gay’ bit into account (for some bizarre and homophobic reason) and 3)  that – sorry, I gotta say it – having a friend who happens to be gay somehow makes you a better or cooler or special person and we should take notice of that fact.

Also, some funny kind-of-true stuff

– Same thing goes with “my black friend”, “my trans friend’, ‘my disabled friend’, ‘my midget friend’. Unless that part of their complex, full, awesome being is relevant, saying it only marks it as a difference. And yes, differences do exist, but I do not hear you saying “my white friend”, “my straight friend”, “my cisgender (I’ll come back to this one) friend”, “my fully-physically-abled friend”.

– Start using cisgender to refer to people who are not transgender, who are privileged in this society for identifying with the same sex they were born with, when differentiating from transgender people. Do not mark the difference by saying “men and transmen”, as if the normal thing was to be cisgender and the other, the alien, the abnormal was to be transgender.

“Oh, but I only mean normal in the statistically-normal kind of way”, you say? We humans do not talk in statistically-literate terms, in case you have not noticed. In a hypothetical situation, almost anyone would be more likely to say it is more normal to run into an English-speaking person in Argentina (or almost any country) than it is to run into someone who speaks Chinese, even if Chinese is more statistically normal. Because language is about politics, about visibility, about access. I know the analogy is not perfect, but you get the point.

“Oh, I don’t know anyone trans so I’m not offending anyone”, you say? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t (what makes you assume you know, anyway?). Even if you don’t, language works like a forest fire. If you say cisgender, someone might ask you what cisgender is, maybe they’ll too be convinced and use it, and so on: somewhere (if not everywhere) along the line, you just stopped someone (and yourself) from – possibly unintentionally – hurting, discriminating against, and offending some one else.

While we’re on the subject of cisgenders and cisgender privilege, it is time for a check-list. I know I have been guilty of more than one horribly offensive, transphobic thing, and some of them stem from not fully acknowledging cisgender privilege, so check it out and stop being a twat 😉

– Saying something/someone is “so gay” as a way of saying silly/dumb/ridiculous/flamboyant/cowardly/boring/cheesy/over-dramatic. You are literally equating those negative or at the very least stereotyping adjectives to being homosexual, and an = sign goes both ways. It is as simple as not being lazy and use any of the above adjectives or any other instead of saying “gay”. Even Hilary Duff agrees with me on this one.

– The same thing goes for “stop being such a girl”, “you’re such a pussy” (for an anatomically-accurate word for ‘sensitive’, try “glans”, as in the tip of your penis), “he plays like a chick” or the like.

run like a girl

You are saying, first of all, that whatever attitude the person displayed was a feminine (girly/womanly/chick-y) thing to do which is 1) stereotyping and further reinforcing gender roles that block both men and women from being however the fudge they want to be without fear of ridicule; and 2) saying, literally saying, that being equated to a woman is wrong or undesirable or humilliating or inferior. Actually, all of those things. It goes like this: “playing like a chick” is saying (most commonly) that that person is playing badly or poorly or too delicately, right? So you’re saying that a girl plays badly and poorly and too delicately, and because you are saying it to demean a person, it is saying that being called or compared to a girl is supposed to be demeaning. It is very easy: say they are playing poorly. Say they are being over-dramatic, say they are being too high-maintenance. Don’t equate those bad attributes and offensive stereotypes to women and do not equate “woman”/”girl”/”chick” to an insult.

– Using the word ‘retarded’ or retard. Something is not retarded: something is either ridiculous, or dumb, or bad, or annoying, none of which describes or equates to intellectually challenged or disabled individuals. Do not use that word to describe people who are not intellectually disabled as a way to insult them: it should not be an insult because intellectually disabled people are not inferior or wrong or less worthy than non-disabled people like yourself. Do not use that word to describe intellectually disabled individuals either, it is offensive. You are not charged by the vowel, so I am sure you can use intellectually disabled instead.

– Oh, OH. Please, stop using the word ‘rape’ for anything else than rape itself. Ohhh this makes my blood boil. You did not “rape that exam”, you ‘rocked’ it or you finished it no-problem. The football team did not “rape that tournament”, they embarrassingly outperformed the other teams.

Using the word minimizes the actual pain, suffering and trauma of survivors. It hurts them, and it can bring back the pain of the actual rape that happened to them. It makes survivors feel unsafe and rapists feel safer in a world that trivializes and jokes about what they do. Here’s another more elaborate take on this.

– Relevant to recent events, debates and blog posts: gay marriage vs marriage. I am guilty-as-friggin-charged. I think this is not cool because it makes it as if marriage between heterosexuals is the whole deal and the other one is an alternative version. So I will start saying “straight marriage” or “heterosexual marriage”. This is a pledge.

So yeah. These are some easy ways in which we can change our habits to be better and to make others feel better and safer. By recognizing the prejudices that we carry with us and by correcting the language that promote these same prejudices, we make it less okay for people to say racist, homophobic, sexist, ableist things whether it is on purpose or not.

THIS. If you have to start the sentence with "I'm not racist, but", YOU ARE BEING RACIST.

THIS. If you have to start the sentence with “I’m not racist, but”, YOU ARE BEING RACIST.

I also invite you to check out this test. It is related to my blog post in that our word choice is one of the ways our prejudices leak out, but there is so much more to look at inside our socialization. The test was created by Harvard researchers in order to assess some of the unconcious associations we make and makes us reflect upon them in order to make our concious attitudes meaningful ones. It is also super simple and interesting and enlightening [I got some scores that embarrass me, honestly, but that make me think and try to tackle internalized ideas I hold].

Any other terms/phrases you think we should change in our vocabulary?

A (painfully) personal note on Steubenville and rape culture and why I can’t sleep.

The first thought in my mind, every time that I read about or hear about a rape case, is this: I could have been be that girl. We all could have been that girl.

The Steubenville case I have sort of followed since Anonymous brought light to it, but in particular since the trial was breaking news in CNN and the horrible, horrible way they covered it and then Fox News and MSNBC aired the name of the victim and then Twitter people decided to send death threats to the victim of rape and then not a single news source but Yahoo! Sports had a decent coverage of the crime and then people on YouTube (why do I read their comments? one of them alluded to me getting myself raped – me, A PERSON ON THE INTERNET – for saying that the victim could drink all she wanted and she still deserved to be respected) were being dickwads too.  Then I saw a news article on Facebook about an 11-year-old gang rape victim in Texas, two years ago, who was basically blamed for her rape because she had age-inappropriate clothes. I had to do something with so much powerlessness and anger and sadness and just UGHHHH and so I did what I had to do: I put on some Amanda Palmer piano-ey goodness and cried uncontrollably for a good 10 minutes.

That is not what I wanted to talk about, though, my crying. I am having a grilled-cheese sandwich and a beer right now as I am deconstructing my feelings and thoughts about this case and rape culture and sexism and calming the hell down. I like giving myself time to be angry and sad and outraged, but it is not constructive after a while. Anyhoo.

My personal letter refers to what I said first, that my first thought was that it could have been me, it could have been pretty much anyone in my family or group of friends. Any one of my classmates, or teachers, or neighbors, or blog followers. It could have been Amanda Palmer. It could and can be and might be any one that any one reading this knows or cares or knows about. It could be our future potential daughters or sons on trial, either as victims or perpetrators.

And I don’t mean this in that abstract, trivial way we talk about any crime, “phew! it could have been me”. I mean this in a more concrete way. I mean that it could have been be my school classmates blaming me for being too drunk, it could have been be my parents doubting me for flirting with guys, it could have been be my “friends” laughing as I lay naked “like a dead body”. It could have been be me having my word questioned on the basis of my sexual choices, on the basis of my drinking habits, on the basis on the clothes I wear, on the basis of the people I hang out with. It could have been be me receiving death threats on the Internet by people I know AND by people that don’t know me but feel so strongly about me being to blame for my own rape that they go on and tweet about it. It could have been be me having my name aired on national television as the girl who was victim of “rape, essentially”. It could have been be me roofied and then called #Alcoholic #Whore. It could have been be me with my life, future sexual, romantic and otherwise relationships, sense of self worth forever ruined or at the very least severely damaged. It could have been be me having to endure the entire Internet being about me, about whether or not I deserved it, whether or not I am a slut, whether or not my rapists deserve a sentence that is not even remotely just. It could have been be me watching as a major news source as CNN sympathizes with my rapists and even hints that I should feel guilty for coming forward and ruining those star football players’ lives. It could be me.

You know how I know it could be me? It is not because my friends are horrible human beings or because my family sucks or because all the men are know are sick in the head or anything.

One basic reason it could be me is covered in this rape mythbusting summary.

The other reason it could be me is that everything I have heard on the news, that I saw on the filming of the trials, that I have read in news articles from CNN, Fox News, Huffington Post even, every tweet I read and every YouTube comment I painfully went through resonates with things I was taught when I was younger. It resonates with comments I have heard before, cautionary tales I have heard before, how-to-not-get-raped bullshit I have heard before.

It could be me because I was always taught all that most girls – and in Latin America, pfffttt even worse – were taught, to the bone. I was told that I should never wear a short skirt so that men do not get “the wrong idea” about me, so that I do not get into “difficult situations”. Meaning that I should not wear short skirts so that men do not assume I am a whore because whores are not raped, they are “convinced”. I was told that I should watch my drinking carefully because drunk girls are seen as easy and “taken advantage of” – another rape-apologist word for rape. I was told to never go out alone because I would give men a reason to harass me – I was literally told that more than once, not joking here or making a vague generalization.

I was even taught specifically to never stay alone in a room with a man, because that evidently led to him thinking I wanted sex. Which is to say, unless there is a concrete wall between you, the answer is “yes”; in other words, he will only stop himself if he is physically separated from you. I was also taught that I should always say no to every man – even the ones I could actually like – because saying yes to more than one guy (meaning, sex before marriage – oh lordy, the blasphemy!) meant I was a slut, and meant my answer was yes to any guy. I was taught not to accept drinks from any men because they might contain drugs. Not once did I hear my father say as much as a – hey, son, when in doubt, DO NOT RAPE. But I did hear a whole lotta “restrain every part of your individuality, femininity, sexuality and sense of worth and ownership of your own body so you don’t get raped”.

It could be me because my family or schooling is not special or unique in what it taught me. Because most people I know – although many have grown and read and learnt and know better – were taught the same things. Because the girls from my high school called (and still call) each other sluts for as little as going from one boyfriend to another in “too little time” (which varied of course depending on how much they liked the girl), or “wearing the wrong kind of clothes”, or “flirting the wrong kind of way”.

Because the men in my community roll their eyes when a woman is drunk and say things like “does she see the kind of message she’s sending?” meaning her drinking is an invitation to her body, usually.

Because consent is not taught well enough, and people I know still go out of their way to distinguish between rape when there is alcohol involved and rape when it is the person’s partner and rape when it is a stranger on a dark alley (the most common stereotype of a rapist, the least common situation of rape) and rape when a woman is flirting but does not want sex, as if they were different degrees of rape. Because most men and women in the community I was raised in still immediately assume that a woman claiming rape in national television must be lying – when it is only 4 to 6% of rape reports that are false.

Because, still today, my biggest fear surrounding vaginismus is that if I tell a guy to stop mid-process because it hurts, he wont: I still hold, somewhere inside my head, the idea that men’s basic mode is ‘rapist’. Because so many women I know still apologize when they need or want to stop, or when they have been flirting but then say no to sex, or when they do not feel in the mood for it and refuse their partners.

Because women still feel the need to resort to refusals such as “I have a boyfriend” in a bar because the threat or the imagined presence of another man is the only thing that will (or might) stop a man from harassing a woman, because a woman’s lack of consent is not enough.

Because Trent Mays apologized for sending pictures of it around, not for the rape. He did not feel the need to even apologize for the crime he committed, because he thinks the “only” (not to minimize it) crime he committed was child pornography. He raped someone and he regrets sending the pictures, because that is what got him caught.

Because a (pardon my language, really, I am trying to be cool) fucking dead-looking pass-out-drunk body of a teenager, captured in pictures, detailed accounts in texts from many young men and women including one which read (I am paraphrasing) that the song of the night was Rape Me by Nirvana – which means the teen sending that text was aware that it was rape what they were doing -, and the testimony of a girl are made accountable by only one and two years respectively, for only two of the approximately 50 high school students that were accomplices of the crime.

It could be me, or you, or any woman or man I know. It could be any one of us because we all (or most of us did, before you get all upset) have drunk while underage, many of us have been drunk, all of us have flirted, all of us have worn something that someone has considered “slutty” (we are all too prude or too slutty to someone, it is called girl-on-girl hate, and slut-shaming and both things suck: stop doing it), all of us have been partying “too hard” according to someone, somewhere. We all have been someplace our parents, or someone, told us not to be, all of us have trusted someone we shouldn’t have at some point in our life. We all have been that girl in Steubenville. Except that not all of our binge drinking and partying and being-a-freaking-normal-teenager-ing has resulted in some assholes raping us and playing with our body as if it was a toy and posting it online and CNN and other news sources being insensitive idiots to us and the whole Internet looking and judging us and our lives being ruined forever.

And if it had been me, or you, or any woman or man, it would not be my or yours or anyone else’s fault either, except the RAPISTS.

Murder–> murderer. Terrorism –> terrorist. Rape–> rapist. Get it?

Grammar makes things so simple for me sometimes.

Let’s create a world in which we never have to be the family of the perpetrators, but not because that would be such a tragedy on their promising careers, but because we taught them better than to treat women like objects to be handled at will.

[When I read about rape cases now, I think, it could be my nephews on the stand. I don’t want them to be those guys, and I will fight like hell so that they are never those guys, so that your nieces wont be those victims. Not the other way around.]

It all starts with us, speaking out, spreading awareness, teaching consent, practicing consent. It starts with us communicating and not being afraid of our sexuality, of our bodies, of ourselves.

my message to you <3

Inspired by Tim, my message to you 🙂

What is a creep, anyway?

creeptips

 

So this one is a special share and it is for the boyz.

I have midterms so I cannot write much, but I am always down for some nice sharing.

 

I just found this YouTube vlog, Modern Primate. I love this guy. He is a straight white guy who speaks up against patriarchy, and as much as I would love a world in which these facts were not in themselves a wonderful special package, we don’t live in such a world. So a guy who is a feminist and a straight white guy is AWESOME.

 

Here is a vid on his channel that talks about what a creep is and why what creeps do is creepy and sexist and just terrible.

 

“Not being creepy means never assuming that someone wants to have sex with you.”

I actually clapped and laughed out loud with this video. So true and important to say.

 

Being a creepy is sexually harassing someone. Harassing people is not cool, it will not get you laid and it just makes you an asshole. K? k.

 

I will talk more about entitlement, rape culture, and other related stuffs later. Right now I just want to sleep.

What sexy word starts with a P and ends with an N? POPCORN!

Let’s take a moment to talk about porn, okay? Okay.

Some feminists argue that the porn industry is just another way the world exploits women, objectifies them, sells them. The same feminists, probably, that say those same things about other forms of sex work – another topic for another day, buddies. They say that it is bad for sex and bad for body image and bad for feminism. I am oversimplifying their somewhat valid case, but I seriously do not want to get that much into that viewpoint.

Yes, some women are exploited into and by the sex industry (by sex industry I mean pornography, street-based prostitution, escorting, hotlines, etc). But as with sex work, viewing all pornography as exploiting women ignores the vast majority of cases in which, with more or less degree of choice, women opt into the industry. Their experiences are equally valid. Moreover, it reduces women in the industry to passive victims instead of actors in their own lives, it strips them of any sort of credit and agency. It also implies that women could not possibly WANT to work in such an industry, morally judging it. Unequal working conditions, agency within the workplace and pay, furthermore, are (sadly) true to any profession and any industry. Which is to say, you are still marking a difference and morally judging it. Not very feminist-sounding, IMHO.

Yes, porn, as most form of media nowadays, objectifies women. BUT it also objectifies men, albeit in a different, possibly-less-degrading manner. Most mainstream porn does in fact portray women as receiving, dying-to-get-some-from-whomever, furniture. Sure. But it reduces men to their penises, and they are only as good of a man as the lenght and girth and endurance of their ever-ready, ever-pleasing, sex machinegun.

One could argue – as many have and will – that it objectifies women more, or in a more negative way. Maybe, I don’t really know. But even then, doesn’t every form of media do that same thing? Then the problem is not pornography, but pervasive sexism and patriarchy. This is to say, STOP HATING ON THE SEX INDUSTRY. Feminism has bigger things to worry about, you guys..

Porn tells us both, too, to expect unrealistic – and lets face it, not even that pleasurable – things from sex and from our partner. It tells us both what we should want and what we are supposed to get out of sex.

Where the similarities stop, and my main charge against porn, is where point of view is concerned, and diversity is ignored in every possible aspect in which diversity exists.

The point of view, the gaze, in mainstream porn is clearly that of a man. The pleasure it seeks is that of a man. The fantasies it portrays are those of a man. It absolutely reiterates that sex and pleasure are GUYS STUFF. And that what women want is either secondary and optional, or supposed to be only to please a man. Visit any major porn site – what a cool homework I am giving you, eh? – and look at the videos in the homepage. How many women orgasm? How many men? How many show a man who is hotter – by mainstream standards, anyway –  than the woman (we like ’em good looking too, y’know?!)? How many gay couples (although there is the lesbian fetish that men have..)? How many end with the guy cumming in the girl’s face – the absolute grossest thing for a gal, if you ask me?

In sex as in life, furthermore, variety and diversity are what makes it awesome. There is no such variety in mainstream porn. Look at that same homepage. How many gay couples are there? How many radically different sexual experiences are portrayed? How many have prostate stimulation? You’d think that if it is supposed to be the most pleasurable thing for men, they’d include it, but because it is related to homosexuality and OMG EW LEAVE MY BUTT ALONE it is not. How many gender non-conforming people do you see? How many include foreplay which does not directly include genitalia? How many include toys (and I do not meen strap-ons in lesbian vids BECAUSE WHO COULD NOT WANT A PENIS)? In how many is the woman the “agressor”? How many of the penises are not irrealistically huge? How many women are unshaved? How many vids feature women are not skinny but the vid does not revolve around their large breasts? How many transgender people?

A very controversial thing that I do not often talk about is snuff porn, rape fantasies, etc. It is a very contested area for feminists, for women in general (why aren’t these groups the same people? another topic for another time..), for activists. Sure, the fantasy of rape or abduction is a real one for many women – many more than most feminists would like to admit, probably. While, true, it is largely due to how women are socialized into being passive receptors, into being submissive, into wanting protecting and strong and powerful and dominant men. It is also true that it could be partly due to the fact that women sexuality and sexual desire is still a taboo and that, through a rape or abduction fantasy women are free of responsibility – and therefore guilt or shame – for what happens.

Thing about these fantasies many women have is that the rape or abduction happens with a man the woman already desired. With a man the woman was playing hard-to-get, or was feeling unsure but his irresistible moves made her change her mind mid-act, as much of this type of pornography would have it. And let’s remember it is a FANTASY, not to be confused with a desire to be translated into reality. Other times, outside of porn and often when it is acted out with a partner, rape fantasies are possible only in a previously agreed-on space and time and manner, with a trustworthy partner women already know and desire and feel safe with.

The problem is not with the women in this type of fantasy, but in men. Because men are the ones at which mainstream pornography is targetted, because men are statistically more likely than women to be the rapist in real-life situations, because men have this fantasy too but it does not translate to the same thing necessarily. Because men are receiving other ideas from mainstream pornography that, together with rape fantasies, can be extremely dangerous and problematic. From most porn, as I already discussed, they learn and internalize that women are passive receivers, always ready for some action from whomever wants it: the plumber, the teacher, the doctor, the neighbor, the brother, the grand-father even. She always wants you and if she seems to not, she just needs some convincing (#MaliciousAdviceMallard: don’t convince her with words and open communication and charm. convince her waving your dong at her instead). Many men, then, internalize that a woman is only playing hard to get, but your ever-ready machinegun non-consensually inside her will change her mind for sure.  A rape fantasy played out is only cool if an explicit, verbal, consensual, safe conversation happens before – and by before I mean a fully-clothed, un-pressured, calm kind of before.

pushmeifiask

I guess that is what I want to say about porn. That in itself it is not a problem, that it should probably try to take on a bit of variety, that it should embrace the radical, unthinkable notion that women want orgasms too and that it could do away with so much violence against women, so much rape fantasies from a male gaze, so much “Oh you were just a plumber but now that you’re naked you are my ideal stud” (how about some where the woman really wants to and the guy plays hard to get? let’s at least switch roles from time to time, man!), but that porn by the mere definition of porn is not the problem.

I would also like to reiterate that stigmatization of the porn industry and the sex industry at large is totally uncool. They are performing, they are making a living, they are selling a product. All else that you add to their definition is your own moral judgment and lack of understanding of the many dimensions of sex industry. Sex workers are not criminals nor are they victims. They are people who happen to work in something that is considered taboo in this day and age. Hey, at some point doctors had to dig up corpses illegally to do a filthy thing called science, so drop it.

[Also, those whose charges against porn are that it is missinforming our youth: you should start by giving youth appropriate, comprehensive, inclusive sex education. That is one big reason why people look to porn when searching for info and some sort of truth about sex – porn was there when sex ed was not. Don’t get me wrong, porn can teach you stuff – sure as hell taught me a thing or two -, but if unaccompanied by science and facts and support from a community, it deeply impairs and limits you sexual identity and experiences.]
sex ed

Cool? Cool.

For further porn-related goodness (sorry! no porn here, dudes and dudettes, that is what Google is for):

A Feminist Defense of Pornography

What makes feminist porn feminist?

Children and the culture of pornography

Feminist Porn: Sex, Consent, and Getting Off

Kids turning to porn for sex education: study – The Globe and Mail